Uncanny Valley (Fiction Story)
Is it human?
Nobody was safe anymore.
Every day, people vanished off the streets. But the police didn’t care, because it was only homeless people, prostitutes, junkies, and drug dealers. The typical scum of society.
Jessica was pretty sure that the police was secretly glad that whoever was the reason for the disappearance of so many folks made their work easier. The crime rate had dropped dramatically. Or at least the rate of reported crimes. Nobody cared about a vanished hooker, aside from her pimp.
But Jessica didn’t want to disappear into nothingness. She didn’t want to be taken away by some stranger and leave her friends wondering where she went. So she took precautions. The pepper spray in her purse had gotten company. A knife and a Taser had moved in. She didn’t really feel much safer but at least she could hurt an attacker so badly that she might get away with her life.
Hopefully, she would never have to use it.
It was a cold night and she was standing at her usual spot, giving smiles to potential customers, when a man approached her. Jessica couldn’t really recognize his face at first, but when he came closer she noticed that something was off. She just couldn’t pinpoint what exactly was the problem.
The man gave her a smile.
”How much for the night?” He asked.
”$100 the hour”, Jessica replied and forced herself to smile. It wasn’t easy because the stranger caused an uneasy feeling whenever she looked at him. But it was cold and they had reported rain later and she really didn’t want to get soaked. Additionally, this man didn’t really seem that dangerous. He just looked … not right.
”Done”, the stranger said and extended his hand, inviting her to take it. She did, suppressing a shudder. Sex with this guy would be awful, she would need to close her eyes to go through with it.
It was a short walk, they ended up in front of a huge apartment building. Surprisingly, this put Jessica’s mind at ease, at least a little bit. Walls where thin in buildings like these, it wasn’t a smart choice for a killer to bring their prey to a place like this.
When the apartment door closed behind them, she gave the man the most genuine smile she could produce.
”You need to pay in advance, honey”, she said. The man nodded.
”Give me a moment, I will just get the money. Make yourself at home in the meanwhile.”
He left the room and Jessica looked around. It was a nice apartment. The kitchen and living room were combined into one and she guessed that her customer had just entered the bedroom.
She plopped herself onto the big couch and shifted into a position that would look as appealing as possible to the man when he’d enter the room again. Then she waited.
When the man didn’t reappear, she got up. Something was wrong. Did he have a heart attack? Did he lie dead on the bedroom floor? That would be a disaster. Nobody wanted a prostitute that had been involved in the death of her suitor, even if she didn’t kill him. It would be seen as bad luck.
”Hello?” She called out and pushed the bedroom door open. ”Is everything alright?” Carefully, she stepped into the room and looked around.
”Yes, everything is alright”, said the man's voice behind her.
Jessica spun around but couldn’t even raise her hands before the baseball bat hit her head from the side. Everything went black.
Stars danced in front of her eyes when she woke up and the throbbing headache threatened to knock her unconscious again any minute. Jessica groaned.
”I am sorry that this was necessary”, her attacker, who sat on a chair opposite of her, said. ”But I can’t allow you to move.”
This was the moment Jessica noticed, that she was restrained. Her wrists and ankles were covered with the tape that tied her to the chair. For a moment, she cursed herself. Of course, she had to be the next victim. Who else.
”Why are you doing this?” She asked, her voice shaking.
”I need humans to feed on. Other animals just don’t quite make the cut.”
”You … what?” As Jessica stared at the man’s face, the uneasy feeling from before increased. But now she could place it. It was the same feeling she got when she looked at an animated face that looked almost like a human. Almost. But never completely.
”What the ever-loving fuck are you?” She screamed.
”Ah, yes. Not who. What. Smart girl.” The man grinned. ”There weren’t many before you who made the distinction. You see, my dear, you guessed right if you think I am not human. I’m not.”
He stood up to stroke her hair. Jessica jerked away, but couldn’t move far enough to escape his touch.
”You humans forget so fast. Your memory is weak, despite the fact that your genes remember. Did you ever wonder why hyper-realistic animations for games and movies also seem so … unsettling?”
His hand had wandered from her hair down her face to her chin. He brought his face closer to hers as he lightly lifted her chin with his hand.
”Only those ancestors of yours that could distinguish humans from those who only looked like humans survived. My kind never completely perfected to look like you, we always only came close. So your species developed a deeply ingrained fear of everything that looked like yourself, but not enough. You recognize that something is missing, but you don’t know what.”
The man let go of her chin and chuckled.
”Of course, this ability doesn’t help if you don’t follow your instincts. Your species stopped listening to your instincts which allowed my species to thrive again. We were almost extinct, you know? But you allowed us to come back. You exposed yourself to so many artificial faces that you stopped listening to the warning your body sent you. And it will be your demise.”
Without any additional warning, the man leaped forward and sunk his teeth in Jessica’s throat. She didn’t even have a chance to scream, as the blood loss from her severed artery made her lose consciousness after only a few moments.
Humanity’s worst predator had taken another victim.
This story was first published on Steem on the 27/06/2017. The cover image has been taken from pixabay.com